Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is one of the few college football stadiums named after a company. But, that does not mean that it has sold out in the quality of atmosphere. The city of Louisville experiences a bit of an identity crisis as it is the southern point of the north and the northern part of the south. A sign providing all the different pronunciations of the city welcomes you into the stadium and it illustrates the identity issues this place possesses. The stadium is located on a sports complex that houses every sporting arena imaginable from swimming to lacrosse. The walk up to the stadium is interesting as one side reveals the many sporting arenas and a Papa John’s pizza joint (of course), while the other side is grossly industrial. It’s as if you are walking on the border between two different countries.
I know fans are crazy in the south, but I have been holding onto a misconception that the extreme craziness was reserved for the Southeastern Conference…until I ran into a throng of Middle Tennessee State fans. The passion began to border hostility which certainly was amazing for fans cheering on a 2-4 team from the Sun Belt conference. Anyhow, the Blue Raiders took an early 14-0 lead with an interception return for a touchdown followed by a halfback pass for another score. From there on, Louisville took over…
Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was not exactly booming with excitement on this homecoming Saturday, but the fans came in good force on a beautiful day that really was meant for football. The early lead by Middle Tennessee State caught the crowd off-guard. But, it did not take long for the Cardinals to make a second half push and hold off the Blue Raiders 42-23.
While Louisville fans casually walked away from an expected victory, Blue Raider fans kept the fervor comin’. A late mess of poor calls by the referees had the fans in blue screaming, yelling, and taking it out on those clad in red. All of this from a team working out of a conference that earns only one bowl bid a year? If this were a MAC team like Western Michigan or Akron, there would a few groans and grunts, but not the outright southern inhospitality that was displayed on Saturday. Honestly, I was impressed and wished more of that same passion from lower echelon midwestern teams. Nevertheless, Cardinal fans went received a happy homecoming while turning a deaf ear to their neighbors from the south.